There are three historic lighthouses located in the park. Both the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and the Bodie Island Lighthouse are open seasonally—third Friday in April through Columbus Day—for self-guided climbs. The third lighthouse, the Ocracoke Island Lighthouse, is not open for climbing.
Safety and Rules
Please do your part to have a safe, enjoyable experience and follow these safety rules while visiting either lighthouse.
Bodie Island Lighthouse climbers need to be aware of these additional safety rules.
What to Expect
Both climbs are strenuous!
The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse has 257 steps from the ground to the balcony level, equal to climbing a 12-story building. The narrow stairs have a handrail only on one side, two-way traffic, and a landing every 31 steps.
The Bodie Island Lighthouse has just over 200 steps from the ground to the top, equal to climbing a 10-story building. The narrow stairs have a handrail only on one side and 9 landings.
There is no air conditioning and no elevator in either lighthouse. It may be noisy, humid, hot and dim inside the lighthouses. Visitors with heart, respiratory or other medical conditions, or who have trouble climbing stairs, should use their own discretion as to whether to climb the lighthouses.
Climbers can bring water in a non-glass, sealable container.
Climbing the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
Climbing the historic Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is a unique experience. The climb is self-paced and provides views from the tallest brick lighthouse in North America.
The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is normally open from the third Friday in April through Columbus Day. Climbing hours are 9 am to 4:30 pm daily. Tickets are required.
Climbing tickets are $8 for adults and $4 for senior citizens (62 or older), children (11 and under, and at least 42" tall), and the disabled. Tickets are available on a first come, first served basis and can only be purchased in-person at the site the day of the climb. There are no advance ticket sales for regular climbs.
Ticket sales begin at 9:00 am and climbs begin at 9 am, running every 10 minutes with a limit of 30 visitors per climb. Ticket sales close at 4:25 pm. Ticket holders should arrive at the base of the lighthouse five minutes prior to their ticketed climb time.
School Group Climbs
Climbing tours may be booked in advance for some school groups.
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse climbing fees may be waived for educational groups visiting the park as part of their accredited curriculum. The fee waiver application and associated materials must be submitted at least four weeks prior to your visit.
Full Moon Tours
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Full Moon Tours can be reserved via Recreation.gov starting at 10:00 am three days before the tour date. You must have a Recreation.gov account established before you can purchase tickets.
Dates for the 2019 Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Full Moon Tours are:
Climbing the Bodie Island Lighthouse
At Bodie Island, you have the chance to climb the lighthouse at your own pace and take in the gorgeous natural surroundings of Bodie Island, the Atlantic Ocean, and Pamlico Sound.
The Bodie Island Lighthouse is open from the third Friday in April through Columbus Day (in early October). Climbing hours are every 20 minutes, and start at 9:10 am daily. Tickets are required.
Climbing tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for senior citizens (62 or older), children 11 years of age and under, and the disabled. Climb tickets are available on a first come, first served basis and can only be purchased in-person at the site the day of the climb. There are no advance ticket sales for regular climbs.
Ticket sales begin at 9 am, with climb times running every 20 minutes with a limit of eight visitors per climb. The last climb takes place at 4:30 pm. Ticket holders should arrive at the base of the lighthouse five minutes prior to their ticketed climb time.
Due to climb limitations, educational fee waivers for school groups are not offered for Bodie Island Lighthouse climbs.
Last updated: March 18, 2019